Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mai chau

In Hanoi I met Sandra and we stayed there 3 nights before going to to Halong bay. After partying at Halong we did a tour to Mai Chau. It was great but once again, it would have been better doing independently since the tour was quite expensive.But then again we wouldn't have had the idea of going to Mai Chau without the hostel tour desk recommending it to us.

The wooden houses of Mai chau

Swimming in the river

Biking in the lovely sceneries
The cute kids kind of stole the show in the evening!
Mai chau was a lovely small village with White Thai people living there. On the tour was just us girls me Sandra and Sabrina whom we met at the hostel and two Americans. We did just a two day tour with Sandra since we're heading to the Fullmoon party and don't have so much time. The others stayed for one day more and went motorbiking. I got to try one anyways and wouldn't have driven it alone... Maybe if it was automatic.

Hanoi & Halong bay

Next to the lake with Sandra & Sabrina
Halong Bay cruise

Kayaking in Halong bay

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Ni hao

In my first overnight bus in China alone I met a great group of travelers, among them a guy from Finland and my fear faded away. In the end I ended up doing only one bus trip in China without having someone able to speak mandarin with me.

We arrived to Yangshuo early morning around 5 a.m. and took a 'taxi' with a Hong Kongese girl and the Finnish guy to a hostel a bit out the town centre. It was nice and peaceful in the countryside.

The first day it rained so we just wondered around the city for the day. Next days we rented bikes and made our way to the river to do some bamboo rafting. Yangshuo is really turistic and the river was full of photographers selling pictures and floating cafes offering refreshments. But it was a awesome 1,5hour rafting in beautiful sceneries among limestone hills. Then we biked to see moon hill. While the others wanted to go back earlier, I biked a bit further and ended up bargaining a good price for a ticket to some caves with mudbaths and hotsprings for the next day. I did it totally by accident by being not really interested at all in the caves at first and got a 320rmb ticket for 80rmb. So I learned that the best way to haggle is to not be interested.

In the caves next day I had really much fun. I got a own tour guide who spoke atleast some english and after a tour of seeing Buddha's and lots of different animals formed by water in the caves I met a group of Chinese students while relaxing in the hotpool. The language was a bit of a issue but sign language has proven pretty efficient in Asia. They asked me to join them for dinner that night.

Next day I went to Xingping and met an American girl Wenlu in the bus. We decided to go together to the Guilin and the Dragon's Backbone riceterraces. The terraces where amazing. It's a huge area of ricefields in the mountains. We did a 5 hour hike from Ping'an to another village. During the hike lots of local women from the longhair tribe offered to be our guides, but we managed to find our way by our own for almost all the way. In the end we agreed to have someone take us to a hotel then. The hotel was a simple wooden two storey building with only us and one Chinese couple staying there. After dinner the power went off and a thunderstorm broke out. Our room windows where banging open and leaking. Two girls being led by a unknown man to a hotel in the middle of nowhere, a storm, no power... A bit of a horrormovie scene?

Luckily we made our way back to Guilin next day and said goodbyes.

In Guilin I met a nice Chinese girl who came with me to Nanning. She took me to see her university and showed a bit of Nanning. Next day I was off to Vietnam and I met Sandra in Hanoi. So far I've loved Hanoi.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

City life

Terkut aidille!

I boarded the plane in Auckland lst weeks Wednesday night and arrived in the middle of busy traffic, hassle and skyscrapers of Hong Kong next morning. O had a bit og trouble boarding the plane because I didn't have a ticket ou of China yet. Luckily a helpful staffmember helped me book a train from Nanning to Hanoi. It was really expensive but I didn't have to pay it yet and got a quotation to my email right away so it should get me to China and I'll by a cheaper bus ticket there.

Agnes was waiting for me at the airport and took me to her sisters apartment where I've been staying for the past week. From there she took me right away to Mong kok to have lunch Cantonese style and see the ladies market. I was hungry and made the mistake of eating myself totally full. After lunch we tasted several more things and then I felt seasick on the ferry to Cheung chau. Next day Agnes got a day off and we checked out the big Buddha statue and in the evening we had dinner with her sister Diamond and her friend. We also wondered around at the night market.

Durng my week I tasted the most bizarre things and ate something new with pretty much every meal. My absolute favourites were eggtarts and hot pot: a pot of boiling soup where you dip raw meat or seafood to cook it. I spent only one day alone since everyone's been so nice to take me around to explore the city. Hong Kong is busy and huge which isn't my ideal but there's lots to see and it's a unique mix of the west and east like every guidebook would tell you. The habits and way of life are quite western but the people Asian. I feel it was a great place to start an adventure in Asia since here you can mostly cope with english. I was really lucky to stay wih Diamond though since the hostels in HK are really expensive and either a bit dodgy or then far from the centre.

I also walked on Hollywood street in Soho, had lunch in a busy lunchtime restaurant on HK island (seemed to be too busy, they brought a sign to our table that it's soon to be taken away because it's on the middle of a walkway) and saw heaps of neon lights during the night. The city is definitely at it's best during night time.

Agnes' whole family was extremely nice to me and I had two dinners at her place. I did heaps more but you'll have to ask me more about it in Finland. Today we'll go to Shenzen to enjoy a 3 hour massage and overnight sleep for a total of about 5euros. After the 20e hostels of NZ, I can literally feel in my wallet being in Asia now. And it's gonna get even cheeper. China will definately be hard to travel with the language barrier but I have had time to get my plans well sorted here. Agnes has been a great help and in Hanoi I'll meet Sandra. I'm happy to travel with someone for a bit longer.

Soon I will enter the world of facebook silence and sign language. Next time I come to Hong Kong I'll come with an empty suitcase since it as so annoying not to be able to shop now with all the cheap shops!

Finland visits Tsing ji shopping mall

Tai o